Saturday, 9 August 2014

Questions and Answers

Thanks to all for sending me through various questions. I have picked a few themes which I have included below:

1. NHS  

Are you concerned about the ongoing process of privatisation of the NHS - from the Circle group taking over Hinchingbrooke Hospital, through to Harmoni being awarded regional 111 OoH contracts, to Virgin Healthcare running elements of the NHS? There are other examples - SERCO running pathology services at St. Thomas'/ Guys/Kings College in London. Other elements of public/private financing projects have resulted in massive profits for the PFI companies, and debt- riddled NHS Trusts. 

I am seriously concerned, my wife runs a social enterprise in Hertfordshire which aims to provide the local 111 service and so I know all about the problems with companies like Harmoni and Serco. I can be broadly supportive of social enterprise and mutuals getting involved with the NHS, indeed the NHS was originally founded by pulling together many such mutuals and collective organisations, but not to unaccountable companies like Harmoni and Serco. 

2. Personal and Corporation Tax. 

Do you support a tax cut for those on larger salaries or do you want to see the 50% tax rate re-introduced? Also what are your thoughts on a more generous tax free allowance for everyone of £12,000 a year?

I agree with the 50% - see my article that Progress published on this issue. I also like the more generous tax free allowance, while tax credits are good I think it must be better and cheaper and is more liberating to have a higher threshold. I don't like the idea that people have to ask for help or credits or benefits it creates a dependency culture.

3. Wages, freelancers and zero hours contracts

Should we be promoting the notion of a living wage as opposed to the minimum wage? Where does the role of freelancers fit in the economy? How can we tackle zero hours contracts?

I have written a report for Labour Finance and Industry Group on freelancing. Part of states that you can only create a good market for genuine freelancers if you tackle the problem of bogus self-employment and the zero hours contracts that come with it. I have an association with the Precariate Workers Brigade who I met when writing my report who are campaigning on these issues.

4. How can Labour promote a more effective small business agenda?

What are you views on Labour and its role in supporting small business?

Labour should be the party of the self employed, freelancers and small business. I have helped to promote this in the party over the last few years by setting up the Labour Small Business Forum a network of small business people in the party. I have chaired fringe meetings at conference over the last two years


5. Should we be building new garden cities and more homes?

I am one of the countries leading advocates on garden cities and work closely with Co-ops (UK) and other progressive groups to promote the necessary invisible social architecture needed for a real garden city.
I have written a book on the subject that is being translated into Chinese and German.
I have also traveled independently to China to promote the model.

China see :

Also my recent article for Progress :

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